Whether it’s the workday blues, trouble at home or a broken heart bringing you to the barstool, why not sip from a cocktail consecrated by holy water and seasoned with prayer?
That’s the offer from the angel-attired bartenders inside a newly opened bar tucked inside a tatty shopping mall at the top of Thonglor. Roaring to life as the pandemic faded, Liberty Plaza’s Bar Thewada (Angel Bar) has opened as a sanctuary for divine cocktails inspired by the heavens.
While the bar’s doors opened just three weeks ago, the man behind it brings over 20 years of experience. And he is not shy about blending his drinks with his strong beliefs.
“Admittedly, I’m superstitious,” bar owner Poompat Chinpongpanich said beneath a steepled top, part of his retro Thai fantasy costume of plain white shirt, silky chong kraben wraparound trousers and golden accessories.
Indeed the bartenders, surrounded by ceiling-high paintings of celestial scenes from Hindu cosmology, complete the feeling that one has walked off the sweaty street and into a temple mural.
For Poompat, 39, it’s about sharing his awe for sacred wonders of the spirit world rather than religious dogma.
“They’re my personal beliefs, and I want people to learn about them,” he said.
He’s also a savvy marketer. The towering murals depicting scenes and characters from ancient Indian epic Ramayana surrounding a chandelier draped with golden leaves also present some fine Instagram possibilities.
Poompat started his own bartending career 20 years ago as a junior barkeep before he moved on to pour at Conrad Hotel and aboard a cruise ship.
But when his career path hit a dead end, Poompat said he sought anything that would help him. After praying to Thao Vessuwan – a giant god who doles out wealth and success – Poompat credits the deity for getting his life back on track.
Six years ago, he opened Bar Angel as both a channel to sell his own brand of liquor and a school for bartenders. He said he’s trained thousands of students from around the country.
While the strong strains of cultural conservatism in Thai Buddhist thought make alcohol a sin to be avoided, Poompat believes otherwise.
“I want people to understand that liquor is not a bad thing. Some good people drink alcohol. Some angels do, too,” he said.
He wants his bar to be a place where he can spread an altruistic message about doing good deeds. Two percent of the 10% service charge (already included in the drink prices) goes to temples.
The bar currently offers six signature cocktails, all inspired by lore and some memorable, semi-divine characters. The highlight is a blue-hued tequila-based glass of Arkom Wittayathorn (THB320), which makes use of Poompat’s homemade pandan liqueur, lemon juice and jasmine syrup. It’s finished off with a sprinkle of holy water and consecrated by Poompat’s prayers. Patrons can request their preferred blessing for him to speak.
The mystical, serpentine Naga gets their own cocktail as well: For THB350, Rattana Naga emerges from a misty platter with Mekhong rum, ruby red grapefruit aperitif and sparkling mango sangria. Another invokes Mekhala, the mythical maiden who escapes an axe-wielding ogre by throwing magical jewelry into the sky to distract him. She’s honored with a refreshing Whiskey Sour-like crowd-pleaser, the Manee Mekhala (pandan-infused rum, jasmine vermouth, lychee juice, pomelo juice, almond syrup, lime juice, egg white and a cinnamon-smoked bubble for THB320).
Who knew a display case for sacred objects could be used for cocktail presentation? Get delivered a drink befitting a sacred relic by kicking it up a notch with the strong, aromatic Suban Hernhol (THB320), mixed with Hong Thong spiced rum with Thai tea vermouth, ginger, Sam Mah tea and angostura bitters.
Apart from the drinks and bar snacks, the venue offers angel costumes – hats included! – for patrons to pose in front of the murals or at the loft level above.
Bar Thewada is open 6pm to midnight daily. It’s located on the first floor of Liberty Plaza at the top of Soi Sukhumvit 55 and can be reached by taxi from BTS Thong Lo.
Open 6pm-midnight daily
1st Floor, Liberty Plaza
Soi Sukhumvit 55, Bangkok
BTS: Thong Lo
Phone: 095 562 3694
This article, Angel Bar: Stirring beliefs at Bangkok’s new home for divine spirits, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!